2022 NFL Draft: Scouting Combine Preview – Tight Ends

UCLA TE Greg Dulcich is a good fit in this Giants mock draft. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
UCLA TE Greg Dulcich is a good fit in this Giants mock draft. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports /

The NFL Scouting Combine is here, a major part of the 2022 NFL Draft process. Which tight ends show out?

We definitely missed it last season, and the NFL Scouting Combine has returned for the 2022 NFL Draft to the excitement of many draft fans and analysts. The quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends take the field Thursday, and the spotlight will definitely shine bright in prime time.

While the combine shouldn’t drive draft narratives and rankings by itself, it’s an important tool for evaluators to look at trends and analysis and sift through things to see what matters.

We’ve done a preview on the WR position, but now the tight ends get their preview. It’s a fun class at the position in the 2022 NFL Draft, and one of the deeper ones. This could be the week we see one guy separate from the pack, not just from workouts, but interviews as well. Let’s look at the class as a whole and preview it for the combine.

Workout Warriors

Every year, prospects at every position shine in the testing and workouts. Who could it be this year? There are two players that could shine the brightest.

Coastal Carolina’s Isaiah Likely is one of them. Likely is almost a big receiver right now, and while he competes as a blocker and gives it his all, he likely thrives in an F-role and in the slot early on in his career. That’s just fine. Likely is dynamic with his feet at the line of scrimmage and has the speed to threaten up the seam and erase angles after the catch. Seeing him run fast and jump high won’t be shocking to those who have studied him closely, but the general public will eat it up.

Greg Dulcich is another to watch in this regard. Dulcich is a smooth mover who should get a receiving role early as well, because of the strides and ground he covers so quickly. Look for him to potentially lead the group in the 40.

Trust The Tape

As there are workout studs, there are also players who don’t test the best in Indianapolis. Ultimately, if there are athletic limitations on tape, they likely will show up at the combine. There are a couple guys who fit the bill here.

Trey McBride is one of them. The Colorado State product has been moving towards the consensus TE1 ever since the season started. His 2021 season was unbelievable (91 catches for 1,121 yards), and many are excited to see where the catch point maestro and fantastic blocker ends up. However, the athleticism isn’t excellent, and the numbers might not be up to par for some teams.

The same goes for Washington Huskies TE Cade Otton. Otton is a functional player inline and provides some decent route running skills, along with balance and toughness after the catch. The athleticism is a question mark for him, and that will show up should he tests.

Most To Gain

It’s hard not to put Dulcich in this category here, because of the recent bump in his ranking by analysts like Daniel Jeremiah, which is why the honorable mention is here. Dulcich running, interviewing well, and showing he’s a fluid mover out there is a big deal.

Jeremy Ruckert was here, but with a surprising twist, he’s waiting until his pro day.

Who Wins The Week?

Let’s throw in Dulcich once again here to kick things off. Dulcich can dominate the week with a great forty time, impress in interviews, and take center stage in a position group looking for the consensus guy to separate from the pack.

As long as McBride doesn’t put up poor numbers, it’s “all systems go” moving forward for him. An average performance will solidify him for a lot of teams and analysts because of what the tape shows.

Two other names to watch are Maryland’s Chigoziem Okonkwo and SMU’s Grant Calcaterra. They could impress in the workouts and drills and show that they are very viable options as receiving guys later in the 2022 NFL Draft.

If you stayed this long, you get the best draft nugget of them all. The testing isn’t always important for positions, and especially the 40, but the overall testing numbers are thresholds to hit. For the tight end position, hitting certain thresholds for athleticism is pretty important, as it’s rare for below average to poor athletes to hit at the position. Most of the top guys and quality starters are good athletes. When the speed and athleticism jumps from college to the NFL, creating space, staying efficient in the short area, being strong enough to handle defensive ends and outside linebackers, it all matters. Every tight end who tests well wins the week.

It’s going to be a fun week to watch for draft fans, and the tight end group in the 2022 NFL Draft is a good one with plenty of studs. The combine will be worth tuning into.